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8th Combined Meeting Of Orthopaedic Research Societies (CORS)


Summary Statement

Wear of total knee replacement (TKR) is a clinical concern. This study demonstrated low-conformity moderately cross-linked-polyethylene fixed bearing TKRs showed lower volumetric wear than conventional-polyethylene curved fixed bearing TKRs highlighting potential improvement in TKR performance through design and material selection.


Wear of total knee replacement (TKR) continues to be a significant factor in the clinical performance of the implants. Historically, failure due to delamination and fatigue directed implant design towards more conforming implants to reduce contact stress. However, the new generations of more oxidatively-stable polyethylene have improved the long-term mechanical properties of the material, and therefore allowed more flexibility in the bearing design. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of insert conformity and material on the wear performance of a fixed bearing total knee replacement through experimental simulation.


The wear of TKR bearings were investigated using a physiological six station Prosim knee wear simulator (Simulator Solutions, UK). Six samples of each test configuration (Sigma CR fixed bearing knees (DePuy Synthes, UK) were studied, and compared with previously reported data, tested under identical conditions (1, 2). The central axis of the implant was offset from the aligned axes of applied load and tibial rotation to replicate a right knee. High kinematics, under anterior-posterior displacement control was used for this study (3). The lubricant was 25% (v/v) calf serum supplemented with 0.03% (v/v) sodium azide solution in deionised water, as an antibacterial agent, and was changed approximately every 0.33Mc. Wear was assessed gravimetrically and moisture uptake accounted for using unloaded soak controls.


The wear rates for the moderately cross-linked inserts (XLK) were significantly lower than the conventional polyethylene (GVF) for all geometries (ANOVA, p<0.05). There was a significant reduction in wear rate as the insert geometry became less conforming for both materials (ANOVA, p<0.05). The wear scars areas were comparable in size and shape between materials, within a geometry group. The size of the wear scar changed with conformity, with the curved inserts showing the largest scars in both anterior-posterior and medial-lateral dimensions, and the flat inserts showing the smallest wear scars.


The introduction of a moderately cross-linked polyethylene insert was shown to significantly reduce the wear of a fixed bearing total knee replacement compared with a conventional material. There was a trend for reducing wear rate with reducing conformity for both materials, suggesting that reduced conformity results in higher contact pressures and reduced contact area, leading to a reduced surface for wear to occur. Both material and conformity were shown to have a significant impact on the wear of a fixed bearing TKR, and therefore provide opportunity for enhancing wear performance through material and design selection